• synonyms


[awr-uh-ree, or-]
noun, plural or·rer·ies.
  1. an apparatus for representing the positions, motions, and phases of the planets, satellites, etc., in the solar system.
  2. any of certain similar machines, as a planetarium.
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Origin of orrery

First recorded in 1705–15; named after Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery (1676–1731), for whom it was first made
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for orrery

Historical Examples

  • The first orrery was constructed by the Earl of Orrery (c. 1700).

    The Romance of Words (4th ed.)

    Ernest Weekley

  • The machinery of the heavens is much simpler than that of an orrery.

    Letters on Astronomy

    Denison Olmsted

  • Orrery's "Altemira" was not produced till long after his death.

  • His countenance, says Orrery, could be terribly expressive of the sterner passions.


    Leslie Stephen

  • He was the improver of that noble instrument the Orrery, which, in honour of him, was called after his name.


    George Bryan

British Dictionary definitions for orrery


noun plural -ries
  1. a mechanical model of the solar system in which the planets can be moved at the correct relative velocities around the sun
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Word Origin

C18: originally made for Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for orrery


1713, invented c.1713 by George Graham and made by instrument maker J. Rowley, who gave a copy to his patron, Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery (Cork) and named it in his honor.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper